Friday, August 19, 2005

Lobby Sets Rules to Rein in Sex Tourists

Source: AllAfrica.com English

Nairobi, Aug 14, 2005 (The Nation/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --Players in the tourism industry have launched a campaign to stop sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes.

The team comprising hoteliers, tour operators, non-governmental organisations and government departments has developed a code of conduct to protect children from the vice, mainly by tourists.

Ms Astrid Winkler, the project coordinator of Respect, an Austrian NGO, said the code was already being enforced.

Ms Winkler said a number of international tour operators had already signed the code.

Among those already implementing the rules locally are Kuoni of Scandinavia, LTU of Germany, Ventaglio di Viaggio/Venta Club Temple Point and Hotelplan AG of Switzerland and TUI of the Netherlands.

Ms Winkler told a recent Unicef-sponsored workshop that the code was expected to be fully operational by next year.

"We are in the process of establishing a steering committee to oversee implementation of the code and carry out pilot projects in hotels," she said.

Ms Winkler said that apart from training courses, they had designed materials meant to create awareness, including leaflets for tourists and stickers for hotels and taxi drivers. The materials are in English, German, Italian and Kiswahili.

The initiative is being funded by the Austrian Development Corporation, Hotelplan Switzerland, the City Council of Vienna, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Economy, and End Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, an international NGO.

Ms Grace Banya, the chief technical adviser of the International Labour Organisation's International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour in Kenya, said the practice was widespread in the country.

"What is terrifying is that some of the children are as young as 10 years. This is the worst form of child labour," she said.

A survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics shows that between 10,000 and 30,000 children are involved in commercial sex.

Ms Banya said her organisation would conduct surveys in 10 districts to establish the extent of child labour.

The chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, Mr Mohammed Hersi, said that they had recognised the danger the vice posed to the tourism industry and had started programmes to deal with it.

"Players in the tourism industry, through KAHC, have come up with a code of ethics for the sector which they ratified last year to deal with sex tourism and child sexual exploitation."

"Some foreign tour operators are already skipping certain hotels due to complaints raised by upmarket and family tourists," he said.

Mr Hersi asked the Government to protect children's rights through budgetary support and adopting appropriate policies.

Unicef's head of child protection programme in Kenya, Ms Joanne Dunn, blamed the problem on the Government's failure to ratify two international protocols.

Kenya, she said, had yet to ratify protocols on sexual exploitation and trafficking and children involved in armed conflict.

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